Archive for June, 2021


Spectactulars and “Anything Else”

June 27, 2021

One of my favorite, small rules in a game is in Spectaculars – characters get a set of skills based on their background (“Identity”) with a percentage chance of success next to each of them. At the bottom of the list, is “Anything Else – 50%”.

It’s a small, simple rule, but it actually smoothes out play in a very nice way.

First, between the many different systems I play, and my brain not being able to just flip a switch anymore on game rules, it solves the classic “Ugh, uh, which stat/skill does this go under again?” question that comes up in games. It’s annoying to me when I’m GMing, but it’s also bad for the player because usually if you’ve hit that moment, it’s because they’re doing something creative or interesting, and slowing down play serves as a minor disincentive.

Second, for players, it also makes a useful reminder – if players look to their character sheets when asked “What do you do?” it also allows works as a reminder they’re not limited to just their immediate powers and skills, BUT ALSO that the odds of success are not terrible (in some games, unskilled activity is a long shot).

A week or two ago, I saw a discussion where someone was worried that some games present the rules in a way that players stop thinking about the fictional possibilities, because “only what is explicitly PERMITTED by the rules” is acceptable. “Anything Else” solves that right there, and keeps it available.

Now, to be sure, you typically want to use any of your other abilities because you end up with better odds of success, but the fact that the lowest chance of success is still 50% is pretty good.

Although I don’t think every game will be served by having an Anything Else rule, I think a lot more, probably would be.

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June 2021 Game Hype

June 1, 2021

Wrapped up my Uncharted Worlds game, and will be done with my Perilous game by the end of the month, so I get a break from GMing for awhile. I’ve been so tied up with stress and work that I haven’t even had a chance to look close at the last several months of game hype stuff. But… more keeps coming.

Into the Motherlands

Afro Futurist sci-fi! I’ve seen some of the streamed episodes and it looks really interesting! Cyborgs, symbiotic modded humans, and more. So far on the game stream they’ve used a variant of Cortex, but they might change systems for the full game. One benefit to having a strong creative team and play under their belt is they can decide which parts of play were highlights vs. bumpy parts and refine their system around that.

Apocalypse World

An oldie but goodie. My UW game wraps up and another friend will be GMing Apocalypse World, which I haven’t gotten to play in, in years. I highly recommend people who want to play or make Powered by the Apocalypse games to try a short campaign (8-12 sessions) at some point. A lot of what people miss is the strength in specificity of Moves and the secondary systems that push conflict together consistently (Barter, Threats, etc.).

Eyes and Hands

Eyes and Hands is a mecha RPG that mixes a bit of Powered by the Apocalypse with a bit of Burning Wheel’s “pre-pick a move” system and really plays up the Pacific Rim “partners syncing” idea. I’m intrigued because it’s such a different mechanical take, and opens up the question about stuff like party-game style mechanics getting ported into more classic tabletop game ideas.

Glitter Hearts

Another Powered by the Apocalypse game, this one does a Magical Girls and strongly shifts the character creation idea to something that looks very interesting – you get “Identities” that are basically personality/attitude choices that bump your stats and give us a good idea of who your character is. The rules cover a good overlap with sentai/superhero stories as well. I think I’ll probably run this next time for my Sunday group.